Back when I started riding, I was with a friend who was an experienced biker, taking a few laps on the Veloway. At one point, a young woman passed us, and my friend picked up the pace to stay close to her. This surprised me, because this particular friend isn’t interested in women.
I caught up to him, and he said, “I wanted to see her position on the bike — if she kept her legs in. She does. Looking good.”
“A good rider keeps the knees close to the top tube,” he replied. “Some people ride with their knees sticking out to the sides.”
Uh, guilty as charged. When I walk, my feet splay out a bit. I even have my cleats adjusted, ever so slightly, to maintain that foot position on the bike. But I realized that my knees not only looked bad, they were putting pressure on some of the muscles in my upper thighs.
I paid attention to my knee position after that. It took some work, because it wasn’t a normal position for me. But over the ensuing years, I forgot about knee position.
Just last week, I noticed it. I’m not sure why, but it came to me that my knees were sticking out again. I moved them toward the center, and whadya know — it felt a lot better. It seemed as though I was putting more power to the pedals.
Putting the knees toward the inside has another benefit. It helps get the feet into a heels-down position. I had been gradually getting on my toes when riding. It seemed as though I was generating power. But it had been flexing my calves, and they were often sore and achy after a ride. With the heels down, I really am generating power. It’s easier to pedal in a circle, and I’m getting a little faster. And when I finish a ride, my calves don’t ache.
But it’s not something that I can attend to once, and adopt it as a new habit. In the last few days, I’ve caught myself with my knees sticking out on every ride. I pull them in. But another mile or two down the road, they’re out again. It looks like it won’t be easy for me to keep my knees in.
But I know it’s the right way to pedal. I’ll keep working on it.